China’s salmon ban reels in the industry

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First Russia banned Norwegian salmon, and now China’s decision to do the same is being branded as “extremely unfortunate.” The latest ban on Norwegian salmon, which follows a political standoff with Russia and nearly four years of a diplomatic freeze with China, will cost both time and money for Norwegian salmon exporters.

China is following Russia in banning imports of Norwegian salmon, meaning Norway's huge salmon industry needs to find new export markets for its fish. PHOTO: Nærings- og fiskeridepartmentet

China is following Russia in banning imports of Norwegian salmon, meaning Norway’s huge salmon industry needs to find new export markets for its fish. PHOTO: Nærings- og fiskeridepartmentet

“You can say that the situation (with China) has gradually worsened since 2010, and this ban makes the situation even more demanding for Norwegian salmon in China,” Christian Chramer of the Norwegian Seafood Council told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday.

China suddenly became furious with Norway in 2010 after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo. China blamed the Norwegian government for its humiliation, even though the government has no say in who wins the Peace Prize.

Four years later, China still has neither understand that nor forgiven Norway, and now the country is blocking all imports of whole Norwegian salmon. The alleged reason is that the salmon contains a virus, but most find that hard to believe. Instead they tie the ban to China’s ongoing anger at Norway for refusing to apologize for the Peace Prize.

Norway exported around 7,650 tons of salmon to China last year, valued at NOK 383 million. Now there will be far fewer sales to China, The ban comes after Norway has spent around NOK 100 million promoting Norwegian salmon in China.

“This ban unfortunately means that one of the markets we have worked on the most for the past several years will be increasingly difficult for Norwegian exporters to enter,” Chramer told NRK.

Before the Peace Prize for 2010 was announced in October 2010, Norway could claim around 90 percent of the Norwegian salmon market. Now it’s down to around 30 percent and on the decline.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund